Explore the Family Name Waterman

The meaning of Waterman

1. English and Dutch: occupational name for a boatman or ferryman, or a water carrier (the English name was perhaps sometimes synonymous with Middle English waterlader or waterberer, denoting a man who carried fresh water from a spring or stream for drinking or domestic use), or a topographic name for someone who lived by a pond or stretch of water (see Water 2). 2. English: occupational name from the Middle English personal name Water or Walter + man, meaning ‘servant of Wa(l)ter’. 3. Americanized form of German and Jewish (Ashkenazic) Wassermann or Jewish (Ashkenazic) Wasserman. History: Robert Waterman emigrated from England to Marshfield, MA, in 1636.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Waterman in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the surname "Waterman" has seen mild fluctuations in popularity over the decade from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, it was ranked as the 2797th most popular surname, while by 2010, it had slipped slightly to the 2947th position, reflecting a decrease of 5.36%. However, the actual count of individuals bearing the surname increased from 11,799 to 12,177, marking a modest growth of 3.2%. The proportion of Watermans per 100k people also declined slightly, from 4.37 in 2000 to 4.13 in 2010.

Proportion per 100k4.374.13-5.49%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Waterman

In terms of ethnic identity, the Waterman surname showed a diverse range of backgrounds based on the data from the Decennial U.S. Census. The percentage of Watermans identifying as Asian/Pacific Islander rose significantly by 53.85% from 2000 to 2010, though they still only represented a small fraction of the total at 0.60% in 2010. There was a strong increase in those identifying as Hispanic (88.19% increase), and a smaller but still noticeable rise among those of Black ethnicity (10.26% increase). Meanwhile, those identifying as White saw a slight decrease in representation (-2.88%). The American Indian/Alaskan Native population remained relatively stable, with a modest increase of 3.54%, while those identifying with two or more races saw an increase of 21.48%.

Two or More Races1.49%1.81%21.48%
American Indian and Alaskan Native1.13%1.17%3.54%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.39%0.6%53.85%

Waterman ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Waterman is British & Irish, which comprises 46.6% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (26.1%) and Ashkenazi Jewish (5.9%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Eastern European, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Indigenous American.

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British & Irish46.6%
French & German26.1%
Ashkenazi Jewish5.9%

Possible origins of the surname Waterman

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Waterman have recent ancestry locations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom85.20%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom85.20%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom84.90%
Merseyside, United Kingdom84.60%
West Midlands, United Kingdom84.60%

What Waterman haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Waterman is R-Z9, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-Z9 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-Z331 and R-FGC924, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Sisson, Rankin, Winston, Russ, Phipps, Webster, Burnett, Russell, Koehler, Reid.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Waterman surname are: H1, J1c, H. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

watermanPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343
Paternal Haplo Image

Your paternal lineage may be linked to King Louis XVI

The rule of France by men of the House of Bourbon began with King Henri IV in 1589 C.E. and continued until the beheading of his direct paternal descendant King Louis XVI in 1793. Several years ago, researchers analyzed a mummified head and a blood-soaked cloth that they believed might belong to the two kings, and concluded that the royal paternal line belonged to haplogroup G. In a more recent study, however, a different set of researchers tested three living men who are direct descendants of the Bourbon kings. Their efforts revealed that the male lineage of the House of Bourbon is actually a branch of haplogroup R-M405.

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Waterman have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Waterman" Surname 35.1%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Waterman" Surname 16.2%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Waterman" Surname 17.7%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Waterman" Surname 19.6%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Waterman?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Waterman are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%